BREATHE

Cert 12A 117mins Stars 4

You’ll need your best stiff upper lip at the ready to survive this British period drama without shedding at least a few tears.

This life affirming biopic is first and foremost a love story, powered by the award-worthy performances of Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy.

It’s also a celebration of independent thinking, eccentricity, and the importance of challenging prejudice and authority. Plus it’s never less than deeply moving, frequently funny and full of charm, grace and dignity.

Keen amateur sportsman Robin Cavendish is paralysed from the neck down by polio, aged only 28.

He’s given only three months to live, so his devoted wife Diana whisks him home to care for him.

Although state of the art in 1958, his essential breathing apparatus looks disturbingly primitive and suffers life-threatening malfunctions. It’s perilously adapted to a wheeled chair to give Robin mobility, and he begins campaigning for fellow sufferers.

2014’s biopic of Stephen Hawking, The Theory Of Everything covered broadly similar ground. Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of the famous physicist but I much prefer this film.

Fresh from playing a CGI ape in the recent War for the Planet of the Apes, actor Andy Serkis swung by to talk to me about choosing this as his directorial debut.

Believing it to be the best script he’d ever read, his passion for the story is evident in every frame of his impresssively confident filmmaking.

Serkis brings the best out of his actors, controls the pace, balances the darker moments with humour, adds some epic panoramas and understands how to move the camera for maximum effect.

Plus he’s bold enough to successfully deploy the song True Love, borrowing it from the Bing Crosby’s classic romantic musical, High Society.

At every turn there is a commitment to life, loyalty and love, so take a deep breath and enjoy.

 

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